In June, 63 volunteers joined one of Maranatha Volunteers International’s annual Family Projects, serving near the city of Arequipa, Peru. The group’s primary goal was to construct a new church building for the Los Portales Seventh-day Adventist congregation, which had been meeting in a small shed, without any space to grow. Other tasks included painting the local police station, facilitating children’s programs in the community, and conducting free vision clinics in the area. Around 500 pairs of eyeglasses were distributed through these clinics, as well as evangelistic literature.
One of the unique aspects of a Maranatha Family Project is the day camp provided for volunteer kids, ages 12 and under. Children help at the construction site, but also experience local culture through field trips and outreach activities. Kids perused a fruit and vegetable market, learned how handmade mandolins are crafted at an instrument shop, and joined their Spanish-speaking peers for classes and play at the local Adventist elementary school.
One of the highlights for volunteers of all ages was the chance to worship with the Los Portales congregation, first on Sabbath for church, and later for a dedication ceremony at the completion of the volunteers’ work. Members and volunteers shared a meal and fellowship after the dedication.
The trip was capped off with Sabbath worship on Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, at 12,507 feet above sea level. Volunteers visited the floating church of the Los Uros congregation, constructed by Maranatha in 2005. Many volunteers also stayed for the optional excursion to Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco.
From 2004-2006, more than 3,000 Maranatha volunteers landed in Peru, constructing nearly 100 churches and schools. In 2019, Maranatha returned to Peru at the request of the Adventist Church in South America. After several volunteer groups served through early 2020, the work was halted when the COVID-19 pandemic locked the country down in March of that year. Maranatha’s in-country crew and volunteers have since resumed the work as conditions improved.